The Americans: "This Place Doesn't Turn Out Socialists."

Categories: Film and TV

Praise the lord and pass the borscht.
The obvious parallel for The Americans, FX's new series about Soviet sleeper agents up to no good in 1980s USA, is Homeland. Minor differences aside (unlike Brody, the Jennings have no POW background) both shows focus on seemingly everyday folk tasked with attacking the United States from the inside and the toll that takes on both them and their families.

But unlike Showtime's perennial Golden Globe favorite, The Americans deals with a conflict we've already won. The Cold War effectively ended when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, so we already know the Jennings and their Soviet superiors don't succeed in bringing down the U.S. So the real questions are: what kind of damage will they end up doing, and what will the fallout (no pun intended) be for their kids?

Wednesday's pilot was promising, even if the spycraft left a lot to be desired. I guess FX is hoping the sex and violence will make up for any nitpicking.

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Free for All: Wheel of Everyday Life , Dean "Miranda" James and "2013 NCECA Biennial"

Categories: Books, Visual Arts

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Photo by Guri Dahl
Wheel of Everyday Life at Akershus University Hospital
Our suggestion for Friday, Swedish artist Gunilla Klingberg's newly installed Wheel of Everyday Life, is at the Rice University Art Gallery. For more than a decade, Klingberg has been exploring the relationship between the commercial and the spiritual by borrowing designs from supermarket, big-box store and fast food restaurant logos to make large-scale cosmological diagrams and Buddhist mandalas. Installing these patterns across walls, floors and windows, she temporarily creates meditative spaces in public spaces of hospitals and museums.

The kaleidoscopic patterns in Everyday Life feature such familiar names as Kmart, Heinz, Target, Charmin, even Star Pizza and Fiesta, for some truly site-specific flavor. The process for making the pattern is "almost like embroidery or knitting," Klingberg tells us, "but it's made at the computer." Once it's printed on vinyl, the pattern is installed in the gallery, spreading into the foyer area and continuing up on the arched windows. "I want to emphasize the viral aspect in the work," says Klingberg. "The fact that visitors and students literally walk on the pattern and thus become part of the Wheel of Everyday Life makes the work more significant to me."

See Gunilla Klingberg's latest creation 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays, noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. Through March 17. 6100 Main. For information, visit the gallery's website or call 713-348-6069.

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Best Comics of January Part 1: The Red Skull With Professor X Mind-Powers... We're So @#$%-ed!

Categories: Comics

Once a month the amazing staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects a pile of the best new releases for us to peruse and judge.

Chew #31

Tony Chu is an FDA agent who has the ability to get psychic impressions by consuming things, including pieces of corpses. He's like Ned from Pushing Daisies, but gross because John Layman thought him up. Nonetheless, it's a good book that manages to be both poignant and ridiculous at the same time, all Asian stereotypes about honor mixing with cybernetic FDA cops kicking ass in order to take down a dangerous diet drink company that is really a front for an egg cult. If you're missing the violent irreverence of Sam Keith, I would definitely pick up Chew, and #31 is a great place to start.

Rating: 7 of 10

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Hit-Lit: A Delight to Watch and Not to Be Taken Seriously

Categories: Stage

Photo courtesy of the University of Houston
Adam Harrington as a presumed hit-man and Karis Danish as editor for his memoirs in the comedic Hit-Lit, now at the Jose Quintero Theatre

Check out our interview with actor/playwriter/director Robert Wuhl.

The set-up:

In the first public viewing of Hit-Lit, the first play by Robert Wuhl, Emmy Award-winning actor and television writer, an upward-striving female editor at a second-tier publishing house desperate for a best-seller sees what she thinks is a brutal slaying, and hires the hit-man to write his memoirs, unaware that the presumed killer is actually an unappreciated writer.

The execution:

The tone of the evening is set as the writer chops an arm off a manikin to use for firewood, while saying "A Farewell to Arms." My laughter echoed alone in the intimate Jose Quintero theatre - this was one of many moments I found hilarious but to my surprise went unshared. Press releases compared Hit-Lit to the great film romantic comedies of the '30s, but this positioning does it no favor, as the characters there were taken seriously. Hit-Lit does have a cinematic reference, but it is Abbott and Costello: fast, funny and frivolous. Its tagline might be "Not to be taken seriously", in the best sense of that phrase.

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Pop Rocks: The Entourage Movie -- HBO's Answer to a Question No One Asked

Categories: Pop Rocks

On your mark, get set, bro.
Somebody out there is probably excited about this news, I just can't imagine who.

Warner Bros. has given the green light to a movie version of the hit HBO show that ran from 2004-2011.

On Tuesday night, "Entourage" main actor Adrian Grenier tweeted the exciting news, writing "It's on!" with a cast photo from the show and the words "green lit!"

The big screen reprise for hotshot actor Vincent Chase, played by Grenier, and his gang will be directed by "Entourage" series creator Doug Ellin, according to

Deals to bring back all of the principal cast, including Kevin Dillon, Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara and Jeremy Piven, are reportedly starting to be negotiated.

And I'm sure those will be some tough negotiations, seeing as how none of the principals have done anything of consequence since the show ended (not to take away from Piven's career-defining turn as "Black Bellamy" in The Pirates! Band of Misfits).

Seriously, eight seasons? That's two more than Dream On, which ranks right alongside Entourage as the longest-running HBO original series nobody actually admits to watching. And now we get a movie, because God knows there aren't enough options for meatheads in the cinema these days.

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Jim Nabors Marries a Man. Of course, 'Gomer' Is Gay. He Lives in Gayberry

Categories: Film and TV

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By our calculation, Gomer wasn't the only one
The world resounded with a predictable Gol-ol-olllll-leeeee! at yesterday's news that Jim Nabors had gay-married his long-term partner, Stan Cadwallader.

Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle in both 1960s-era television series The Andy Griffith Show and its spin-off, Gomer Pyle, USMC (pre-Don't Ask Don't Tell, we guess), announced the two had been wed in Seattle last month, following Washington voters' approval of gay marriage in 2012.

"I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing; it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody" Nabors eventually told AP. "I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."

Yep, he's gay.

Nabors's sexual orientation was long an open secret in the LGBT community and among his straight(ish) friends like Carol Burnett and Julie Andrews. And if he wasn't gay, his character, surely Gomer Pyle was. After all, like that other irresistible Southern television icon, Honey Boo-Boo, says, "Everybody's got a little gay in 'em!"

Face it. Mayberry, Gomer's famed fictitious hometown, has a lot of gay in it. A lot. It boasts more unmarried men and women per capita than South Beach during White Party season.

In fact, Mayberry sets our gaydar to clang-clang-clang-ing like Judy Garland's proverbial trolley. Consider Gomer's (Nabor's) neighbors:

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5 Photos That Prove Doctor Who Is Real

Categories: Doctor Who

If you ever want to have a real good time, hide on a rooftop somewhere and blast the sound of the TARDIS landing from a set of powerful speakers. I promise you that you will see at least a couple of people come tearing out of their homes looking for The Doctor. I also promise you that if they find you they will not be happy. Remember kids, guns don't kill people, crushed nerd dreams kill people.

I don't blame those people who come running for two reasons. First, I totally understand. Doctor Who is the ultimate fantasy vehicle because it involves any regular person randomly stumbling across grand adventure. It's like Jesus meets Gandalf and there are lasers and dinosaurs involved somehow. If you can't get enthusiastic about that then I hope your horrible unlife is ended when a box of TPS reports falls on your head.

Second... it's not impossible that some of it isn't true. Hear me out. I've already talked before about how we've already invented a sonic screwdriver, and discovered something that is very close to the Weeping Angels... which is wonderful because according to Steven Moffat the original statue that inspired the Angels was gone when he tried to go back and show his son. So yippee, we're all going to die.

There's also some pretty damned strange pictorial evidence that the whole thing is actually true.

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Reality Bites: The Taste

Categories: Reality Bites

One of these people is trying too hard.
There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

Few things add class to your reality competition like celebrity judges. In the past, those selected to judge singing shows were likely to be more recognizable to the layman than those on cooking programs, but the recent rise of the Food Network and shows like Top Chef, Kitchen Nightmares, and Chopped have created a growing number of "celebrity chefs," easily identified by even the most casual TV watcher.

Anthony Bourdain is near the top of that list. No Reservations debuted in 2005 (along with shows from Rachael Ray, Gordon Ramsay, and Emeril Lagasse), and while he's done stints on Top Chef and the like, ABC's new prime time cooking competition show The Taste is his first major network judging gig. Joining him are French chef Ludo Lefebvre (of Lavo fame), English author and TV host Nigella Lawson, and Brian Malarkey, who ... finished 4th in season 3 of Top Chef. Seems fair.

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Why Is Everyone Hating on that Movie Canyons?

This week the indie "sexual thriller" Canyons took another hit. After, being dissed by Sundance, which apparently had its fill of over-sexed indies, it was also rejected by Texas' own SXSW. Why is everyone hating on this film?

If you haven't heard about it, the film has had a very rocky road thus far. The New York Times published an incredibly lengthy account of the film and the world of trouble it has gone through, which I will get to in a minute. Canyons is being described as an erotic film noir. It is directed by Paul Schrader, writer of Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, and was written by Brett Easton Ellis, who wrote psycho-dramas such as American Psycho and Less Than Zero. Given these two gentlemen's previous work, one would think Hollywood would be excited about this film, but it seems anything but.

For some unknown reason, and ever more unknown after reading the Times chronicling of this movie, Schrader insisted on casting Lindsay Lohan in the movie. He wanted her to play a minor role; she demanded the lead. Throughout the shooting Schrader has had to contend with arrests, drugs, car crashes, and that's all on Lohan's good days. Basically, she's turned the movie into a mess.

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Kathryn Kelley Works Through Her Monsters at Art League Houston

Categories: Visual Arts

"The barren plains of back turned could have been [monsters in the attic]" by Kathryn Kelley

There's a lot going on in Kathryn Kelley's installation at Art League Houston. For starter's, there's the title -- "The uncontrollable nature of grief and forgiveness (or lack of)" -- which is accompanied by several stanzas of a poem on the gallery wall.

Beyond text, in her exploration of grief and forgiveness, Kelley primarily employs materials that seem to be pulled straight from a junkyard. Pieces of wood have random hinges and spools of rubber have even tracked in leaves. The rubber takes on various forms throughout the space, most prominently as three rubbery specters that cascade from the ceiling, with teal picture frames jutting out at odd angles. Attesting to their haunting quality, Kelley calls these "monsters in the attic."

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